England set to stick with Compton
England appear certain to persevere with Nick Compton as their Test match opener and resist the temptation of instead fast-tracking Joe Root up the order against New Zealand.
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Coach Andy Flower on Sunday stopped short, as is always the case, of directly airing issues of selection in public before the first Test at Dunedin's University Oval.
But as he reflected on a performance he described as "sloppy" and "ring-rusty" in England's defeat against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown, he had praise for both Compton and Root - as well as urging caution about the young Yorkshireman's progress after just one Test cap to date.
Compton did much, on his first Test tour in India before Christmas, to vindicate selection as Alastair Cook's new opening partner with a string of determined innings in exacting circumstances.
Root also impressed, of course, with a painstaking half-century on debut at number six as England closed out a historic series win in Nagpur - so much so that many good judges have been prepared to predict his swift elevation in time for next summer's Ashes.
But it was Compton who was given the nod alongside captain Cook in that three-wicket warm-up defeat.
He was caught-behind in both innings for an aggregate 22 runs, and effectively bounced out second time round by Mark Gillespie, while Root managed 66 down at number six.
That was no endorsement of Compton's credentials, but Flower was hardly hinting today at any last-minute change of plan.
"I thought Nick played really well in India," he said.
"He had some tricky situations to deal with there - some extreme sub-continent conditions, obviously the pressure of playing in India for the first time.
"I thought he did extremely well out there, without getting the huge score.
"He put on some really valuable partnerships with Cook."
The best the same pair could muster together at the Queenstown Event Centre ground was a first-innings 45, falling narrowly short of a sixth half-century stand in 10 attempts.
Flower added of Compton: "He missed out in this game, having spent a bit of time there in the first innings when the ball was darting around.
"He's a good player."
As for Root, the coach is wary of a consensus - after an admittedly impressive start to the 22-year-old's international career - which is perhaps in danger of taking future success for granted.
"You've got to remember Joe Root has played one Test match," said Flower.
"I think everyone should keep a little calm about his prospects.
"No one knows exactly how he's going to do, not Joe and none of us.
"But he has handled himself very well in the international competition and the opportunities he's been given so far.
"We look forward to him having a very successful career, but he's got to take it one step at a time - as do all of us."
It will be a major surprise therefore if England do anything other on Wednesday than select the same top six, in the same order.
Flower and Cook also have a very obvious course of action to confirm an attack led by James Anderson and Steven Finn, both rested for the tour match, and completed by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
Broad, dropped in India before he had to fly home with a heel injury which is still troubling him, got through more than 40 overs at good pace over the past four days.
Flower said: "I'm very pleased.
"His heel is obviously a worry to him and to us. But it reacted well to the number of overs he bowled and he came through it well.
"He is fit and available for selection for the first Test."
Swann also has a chronic injury concern in his bowling elbow.
The coach added: "Inevitably, there are niggles - the stresses and strains that are put on their bodies mean there always are.
"But at the moment everyone is fine."
That is just as well because although Chris Woakes' bowling improved in the course of the warm-up fixture, Graham Onions' did not.
It would be hard to nominate the Durham bowler as the man to come in, on current form, should injury strike any of the three frontline seamers.
Flower, however, is confident - with Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett both hoping to prove their fitness again by the summer - that England still have depth in their resources, at the start of this double-Ashes year.
He said: "We've got some very fine international bowlers. That's why we've had a lot of success recently.
"We're always conscious of the contingency plans in case some of our star bowlers get injured - and because of the nature of the job they do, they are going to get injured.
"So focusing on the overall stock is absolutely right.
"I am confident that if we do have injuries, we will have bowlers who can create pressure and chances."
(reopens) Flower spoke of his displeasure at the poor off-field behaviour which left England Lions management with no option but to send Durham's Ben Stokes and Kent's Matt Coles home early last month from the tour of Australia.
"It was really disappointing to hear about some of the behaviour that happened," he said.
"Those guys were punished and quite rightly so.
"Nobody is going to be perfect and we don't need for our young people to lock themselves in their rooms every night - because they would be very boring people if they did.
"But they are professional athletes and they have to make decisions based around that.
"If we have guys at any level that think it is okay to behave in that manner and think they can also represent England, then we don't want them in our system."
New Zealand-born all-rounder Stokes, 21, has already played for his adopted country in both limited-overs formats, but it seems he will have to satisfy the selectors he has changed his ways before he does so again.
Flower added: "I really like Ben and he is very physically talented.
"But we've all seen a very long list of physically-talented sports people that do nothing in the international game and waste physical talent.
"So as well as physical talent, there has to be the mental ability to make decisions and develop your game, to handle stress and pressure - and that is an area that he should look at."